Eknath Easwaran

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Eknath Easwaran (1910 – 1999, given name Easwaran, family name Eknath) "was born into an ancient matrilineal family in Kerala state, South India. He grew up under the close guidance of his mother’s mother, Eknath Chippu Kunchi Ammal, whom he honored throughout his life as his spiritual teacher. An unlettered village woman with a continuous awareness of God, she taught him through her example that spiritual practice is something to be lived out each day in the midst of family and community.

"Growing up in British India, Easwaran first learned English in his village high school, where the doors were opened to the treasure-house of English literature. At sixteen, he left his village to attend a nearby Catholic college. There his passionate love of English literature intensified and he acquired a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition. Later, contact with the YMCA and close friendships within the Muslim and Christian communities enriched his sense of the universality of spiritual truths...

"In 1959, the Fulbright exchange program offered him the opportunity to come to the United States. Soon he was giving talks on India’s spiritual tradition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. At one such talk he met his future wife, Christine, with whom he established the organization that became the vehicle for his life’s work, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

"Eknath Easwaran teaching what is thought to be the first credit course on meditation offered at a major university in the U.S. at U.C. Berkeley in 1968.

"After a return to India, Easwaran came back to California in 1965, dedicating himself to the responsive American audiences that began to find their way to his classes in the turbulent Berkeley of the late 1960s, when meditation was suddenly “in the air.” His quiet yet impassioned voice reached many hundreds of students in those turbulent years.

"Always a writer, Easwaran started a small press in Berkeley to serve as the publishing branch of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Nilgiri Press was named after the Nilgiris, or “Blue Mountains,” in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Easwaran had maintained a home for some years. The press moved to Tomales, California, where the Center bought property for a permanent headquarters in 1970. There Nilgiri Press did the preproduction work for his first book, Gandhi the Man, and began full book manufacturing with his Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living in 1975...

"His work is being carried forward by his wife, Christine Easwaran, who worked by his side for forty years, by his students, and by the organization he founded, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation." [1]

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  1. Eknath Easwaran, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, accessed June 15, 2010.